Americans — What You *Do* Have to Lose
Here’s a thought. Let’s do a thought experiment. I’ll help — I’m a scientist.
Let’s briefly look at what you’ll have to lose — because you will have to lose. You’ll be needing to live more simply. Which you could do without leaving the United States, except for the small problem that you can’t just do what you want.
Unfortunately, the whole system in America is aimed at consumption and extraction. And there’s very little sympathy for the actual citizens. Building codes, all kinds of laws. Rules and busywork and taxes and expensive utilities.
For example, you can’t build a ‘little house’ and live in it without huge battles with the county and your neighbors, and ‘code enforcement.’ You know, “Your house has wheels!” said the inspector. “You need to put a motor in it and drive it somewhere else,” he says.
But the whole climate disaster and the social and economic meltdowns in America — the whole population overshoot issue — those involve limited resources that are real things and the reason you’ll have to lose some of what you think is your comfort and luxury. It’s your albatross, too. Do you feel it hanging from your neck?
I saw these problems and hated them, so I left the States and moved to Panama a couple of years ago. I don’t have a clear and pat suggestion for you, except to say please read this article and start thinking of what I’m talking about. You might make some small changes in your lifestyle right now — that would be good for a lot of reasons.
… Sometimes my head gets filled up with multiple trains of thought that might seem unrelated to each other. But a writer never knows. Between our squirrelly writerly minds, the titles we choose, and the writing tactics required, a story often does change seemingly by itself.
That happened to me just now, coming back from a 2:30 a.m. walk through Los Bosques, Panama. I had a whole thing written in my mind. This isn’t it!
I was thinking about science. That I surely use it daily, in the general sense as knowledge itself, and specifically as in the physical and maybe social sciences. It doesn’t matter that I live a simple, nearly stone-age existence here.
Los Bosques is a primitive place. It’s more stone age than you might believe. We have no hot running water in our houses. You can shower or wash clothes with a garden hose or in the shower — it’s all the same water. You don’t need a car or other modern encumbrances.
It’s stone age in a different way too, and this is important. Here we all are more like a tribe than a population living in a country governed by others. There is no sense of government that I can feel.
You can do what you want and nobody will likely complain. You can play your music loud until 6am tomorrow and that’s considered normal. You can fill a wheelbarrow with watermelons and go around the neighborhoods with a bullhorn and sell watermelons all day and night.
No licenses required.
We have no clothes dryers in our homes. Clothes can take days to dry on a line because of the humidity. But people are pretty clever hanging the clothes under the eaves up high where there won’t be any rainfall and might be some breezes. See, right there is some empirical science.
Then I got to thinking about the Greeks. Plato and Archimedes and all the other great scientists. Their living conditions were not much different from mine. For all their wonderful discoveries, they were still living in a sort of stone age, 2,000 or more years ago.
And then I got to thinking of Americans. Hoo-boy. There are some real problems in the United States, and yeah, I care. I lived most of my life there.
So now, my reader, we’ve circled around to laying the groundwork about two distinct ways of living. The one I’m living is sustainable in a general way. The lifestyles in the U.S. are not. If your oppressive government were to go away — to collapse — then — well, hell.
I really can’t see how the United States can’t collapse. Maybe dictator Trump can hold it together? The Dems are trying to roll back the country to earlier, better times. But that’s the funny thing about the past. You may remember it, but you can’t get there anymore. That time has passed.
Okay. I gotta say something positive.
You could consider moving to Spain or elsewhere in Europe or myriad other places. You’d best act before any mass exodus begins from the US. Take what money or income you can scrape up, but go. The poorer you are, the more you need to go to a socialistic place — which is most countries fortunately. But you’d want one that gives expats like you free education and the ability to seek and get paid for work.
That’s all I got in the way of positive advice, except if you stay in the U.S, consider moving to Duluth, Green Bay, or Madison… it’s relatively cheap living, and there’s plenty of fresh (though polluted) water there in Lakes Superior and Michigan. The area is a good climate refuge.
Very truly yours,
P.S. Read on, there’s more…
Well, of all things. I scrolled down and there isn’t more. Lemme think.
Well, jeez. This article is nothing like what I was thinking when I took my early morning walk. Funny how that happens to us writers.
Anyway. These are very difficult times. Nobody really knows the future.
You might consider developing a new habit. Like walking to a park to think for 20 minutes. Don’t bring your smartphone! Imagine a simpler life, without the many pressures you feel now. That’s what you need to start imagining.
I hope you can find your answers. Or questions.